I’ve been trying to impart the Chinese language to my kids even though I myself can’t really speak Chinese. It’s hard work, yo! I’m one of those bananas… I can usually get the gist of what you’re trying to say if you stick to basic conversational stuff but I can’t respond back unless the other person understands English. It is a hilarious scenario when you actually imagine it!
To be honest, when I first started on this journey, I didn’t know where to start. I found loads of blog posts about it and everyone was doing it differently but I couldn’t tell if the methods they’ve adopted has worked! Some of the methods used were inspirational goals but way beyond my capability. At the same time, I didn’t really want to spend bucketloads of energy or money on books or classes that would only be cast aside later. You can say that I was in a stalemate position for a long time.
I started with iPad apps and gosh, we went through quite a number before suddenly, the opportunity came up so I just went with it. After all, if you never start then nothing will ever happen right? What was that saying again? Anyway, here are what we’ve been using that has helped us tremendously so far:
Before the discovery of Sagebooks, this was what I had on the Ipad for the Baz. I had a few other Learning Mandarin apps too but this was the best and most effective. It’s a simple game of character and sound recognition of simple things that all children would learn for the first time and at the end of each category, there is a game to reinforce what they’ve learned. He loved it and I thought it was a great game! I wouldn’t say he actually read the characters while perusing the game but sound wise, he knew what each thing was. He completed the whole game and we’ve not gone back to play on it since we started on Sagebooks but what I might try to do at the end of Sagebooks is go back and get him to recognise the characters by turning off the sounds and see if he can match the characters to the pictures.
It all happened quite suddenly. I went back to my parents place for a visit one day and suddenly noticed a few books of Sagebooks in the house. I totally recognised it because it came up a few times when I was googling “How to Teach Kids Mandarin”. I knew my mum was learning Mandarin but I never thought to ask her all this time! *facepalm* Mum had the whole collection of Basic 500 so that’s how we inadvertently started using Sagebooks on our learning journey!
As of today, Baz is currently on the 4th set of Sagebooks and I would say it would be another 6 months before we get to the end of the whole series which is pretty exciting stuff! Granted, he’s also been learning how to read in English and I’ve noticed that he would now try and figure out the pinyin words when he can’t remember the characters while we’re doing our lessons!
Elli is not quite 3 years old so I’m in no hurry to have her go through the Sagebooks but because she going through the phase of wanting to do everything that Baz does so I’ve allowed her to casually start on the very first Sagebooks. What do I mean by casual? Baz is going through the lessons with her instead of me – only because she only wants Baz to teach her! They really haven’t gone past the first lesson in the book yet!
I’m actually quite happy with the way things are progressing with Sagebooks. It’s not a daily activity for us. We reach for the books about 2-3 times a week but he’s tracking well that we can do up to 5 lessons in one sitting usually. I have to say that Sagebooks are really my core learning resource and the others help supplement the learning. I’m going to be a little lost again once we’ve finished this set. Can I be that lucky to have the next best resource fall in my lap again when we’re done with Sagebooks? 😉
3. Boonie Bears
I found out about this cartoon while we were in China and the children love it. I love that they have the subtitles in characters at the bottom so the children can hopefully associate some meaning to the words while watching it. They have 20mins shows and also movie length which works well for us.
I discovered this show via MandarinMama and it was at a time when I’ve been trying to get Baz to understand the meaning to the words. I don’t like it that they use only pinyin on the show but the children love the show. Yes, even Elli is taken with the show and she doesn’t like watching TV very much! We’ve been watching it for 3 weeks now about every second day and the kids will request for it during lunch time.
So far on our short-ish journey (it’s only been just over a year!) I would say that his Mandarin is coming along slowly but surely. In comparison to where I was at when I was his age, he’s leaps and bounds ahead of me. I just have to remember to continuously keep at it. I don’t actually know what I’ll do when we finish with the Sagebook set but I’m hoping to keep track of how we’re doing so I’ll keep you updated!